In order to end domestic violence, it is important to understand what it is, it’s history, and it’s prevalence. It takes all of us to end the cycle of violence, and there is so much we can all do to support survivors.
History of the Domestic Violence Movement
Roots Going Back Centuries
Domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence are as old as humanity. In western civilization, violence against women was legally enshrined from our earliest days. Examples include the Laws of Chastisement, allowing husbands to beat their wives and children, and laws supporting a husband’s right to rape his wife. Local laws often mandated how much “wife beating” was allowed, and the State v. Rhodes decision in 1868 established that battering by husbands and fathers is a private family matter, not to be interfered with by government. Violence against women has also long been used as a weapon of war, colonization and slavery, continuing to this day.
The Birth of Activism
Organized resistance to gender-based violence has taken place at many points in history. Examples motivated in part by women striving for freedom from abuse include the Temperance Movement (alcohol prohibition) and the Suffrage Movement (women’s right to vote). In the late 1800’s, Susan B. Anthony helped women escape from their abusers.
There is still much work still to be done to end gender-based violence. While efforts to improve support and opportunities for survivors must continue, it’s now time to aim upstream. This includes more efforts to educate and mobilize the community to model and teach children about healthy relationships, learn the warning signs of abuse, and build skills to intervene with abuse and support survivors. And it includes ongoing efforts to shift the culture away from rigid gender roles and expectations. We CAN end domestic violence!
Domestic violence is a hidden epidemic in our country, experienced by all sectors of our society. It does not discriminate and anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship. Here are some sobering statistics:
In the U.S:
- Every minute, 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 3 women and in 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
- 3 women are murdered each day by a current or former male partner.
- Every 14 seconds, someone calls the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- 1 in 3 teens has experienced some kind of abuse in their dating relationship.
- 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually.